(a) To receive an update from S Lakin of CBC on the revised timescales for reviewing the experimental traffic regulation order closing the High Street to traffic.
(b) To receive and consider a report from Cllr Owen (attached)
(a) The Committee received a verbal update from Steve Lakin of Central Bedfordshire Council on the revised timescales for reviewing the experimental traffic regulation order closing the High Street to traffic.
Mr Lakin confirmed the Experimental Traffic Regulation Order could only stay in force for 18 months and during this time it would be monitored and assessed. At the end of the 18-month period, the ETRO could be allowed to lapse or be made permanent. It was further clarified that any formal objections about the ETRO needed to be submitted within six months of the start date.
The ETRO had last been amended on 30 September 2020 so any formal objections would need to be submitted by 30 March 2021 and if not further amended, the end date for the ETRO would be 30 March 2022. As this was a temporary order, no permanent changes would be made to road markings and options would be considered on the impact on surrounding roads and whether other restrictions could be implemented, for example timed restriction, taxi parking and changes to bus routes.
At the end of March 2022 this order would end and if needed, another could be put in place. With Bedfordshire firstly in tier 4 restrictions from December and then subject to the national lockdown since January, the High Street was not currently operating normally and it was considered too early to consult with the public until COVID restrictions had been lifted and “normal” shopping habits resumed.
RESOLVED to note the information.
(b) The Committee received and considered a report from Councillor Owen proposing that CBC and LLTC undertake jointly to organise a consultation to take place into whether the pedestrianisation would become permanent and to ensure that the town had a voice in this decision.
A proposal was made by Councillor Owen for the local authority to produce a well-prepared document that set out options for the post-COVID permanent use of the High Street, with benefits and disbenefits carefully assessed, along with a plan for a thorough and wide-reaching consultation with the public and all other stakeholders. Following discussion, the motion was seconded and put to the vote. The resolution was passed (6 for, 3 against).
RESOLVED that Central Bedfordshire Council be requested to produce a well-prepared document setting out options for the post-covid permanent usage of the High Street, with benefits and disbenefits carefully assessed, along with a plan for a thorough consultation with the public and other stakeholders.
Councillor Harvey asked whether any further amendments could be made to the ETRO before the objection deadline of 30 March 2021 to improve access to the High Street for disabled people and bus users. Mr S Lakin advised that specific recommendations as to how the ETRO might be modified would need to be made. For example, was it being suggested that blue badge holders should be allowed vehicular access to the High Street. As the Partnership Committee would not meet again until April, it was agreed that the Town Council’s Planning and Transport Committee be asked to consider this matter further.
RESOLVED to request that the Town Council’s Planning and Transport Committee give consideration to making recommendations to Central Bedfordshire Council regarding possible modifications to the ETRO currently in place for the High Street, to improve access for disabled people and bus users, before 30 March 2021.